Black Friday is a scary name when you think about it. In the US the name was given to the shopping day after Thanksgiving due to the fact that so many people went out to shop that it caused traffic accidents and sometimes even near riots as people desperately tried to pick up that extra special bargain. Black Friday is growing with each year; what started as an American trend has now firmly established itself into British culture. Many larger companies start their Black Friday promotions weeks before the day, with ‘special offers’ hyped more than ever. As an independent shop this trend this is something of a dilemma. Do you join them or do you stand film, sticking to your trusted products and customers?

Indies don’t have the buying power of the chains, looking to offer value whilst maximising profits. Shops like ours (Wishes of Cudworth) cannot buy in bulk, using the mantra of small and often. Trends and fashions change, leaving the potential a warehouse full of unwanted and out of date stock, or in our case in would be another box in the spare bedroom to trip over.

We’ve all seen the images of people fighting as they scramble to get a cheap flat screen TV. Apocalyptic scenes as people push against shop shutters to get in like Zombies (The horror classic Dawn of the Dead features the Undead returning to a Shopping Mall like Meadowhall Hall/The Trafford Centre as its the place that is ingrained into their brain dead minds. A worry prediction of The Shape of Things to Come). I’m not sure any shop owner would welcome and encourage such behaviour. I once saw two ladies nearly pull a jumper into half as they wrestled with their bargain find in a clothes shop. It reminds me of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, I could almost hear them muttering “My Precious”. Still shops like us want to create a buzz and not lose our customers to the more shouty big chains.

The value of some sales is questionable with rumours of shops pulling out the old, unwanted stock from the back of their stores purely for Black Friday. Blinded with ‘savings’ some people would buy anything wherever they needed it or not. Not all Black Friday offers are corrupt, as always there are good deals out their for the savvy buyer. Their is also the question that if your shop becomes well known for offering flash sales would your customers end up waiting for the next one, instead of visiting you earlier. How many shops see a drop in trade just before Black Friday? People like a deal but they also don’t like to feel they have been conned. No-one wants to buy a product on Thursday only to see it half the price the next day. Promotions should be about gaining customers not losing them.

At Wishes of Cudworth we decided the best action was to offer some savings on our premium Village Candles and Mrs. Bridges range of products. With 10% and 20% discounts on a few select lines, our main focus was on bundle deals. To reduce our small, pick up lines would cut into our already slim margins. The big difference is at Wishes we aim to offer great products at great prices all year round and not one day a year. We want our customers to return to pick up the odd card every week and not wait for the next sale. Indies like us should focus on offering products with a difference, to avoid the tat and so called bargains. Buying a card or gift from an independent shop should be joyful experience and we should leave Zombies to shuffle through the dead stock elsewhere.